The Naked Show

Exposed Battlecross - Pursuit Of Honor (Metal Blade) 2012

1. Pursuit Of Honor (0:38)
2. Push Pull Destroy (3:35)
3. Kaleb (3:39)
4. Deception (3:28)
5. Man Of Stone (3:47)
6. Breaking You (3:55)
7. Rupture (3:49)
8. Leech (2:46)
9. Better Off Dead (4:10)
10. Misery (4:49)
11. Foreshadowing (1:41
Battlecross pick

Detroit’s Battlecross is part of a new generation of neo-thrashers. Describing themselves as "blue collar thrash" I was anxious to check out Battlecross and "Pursuit Of Honor" was my introduction to the band. The Voivod-ish cover art and classic thrash metal logo helped built the anticipation. Musically this band is packed full of vicious riffs, speed, aggression, a melodic sense and some fairly progressive songwriting. However, while the band is for the most part a thrash band, they aren't straight forward thrash metal and their vocalist is far and away not a "blue collar thrash" vocalist. Vocalist in Kyle "Gumby" Gunther shrieks and growls, reminding me of Randy Blythe of Lamb of God fame. His style helps pulls the band closer to more modern styles of music. As well, the music itself often crosses over into death metal heaviness. Though a song like "Rupture" features some Metallica "Kill 'Em All"-style riffing, it also boasts some fast and furious blast beats. Likewise the opening moments of "Push Pull Destroy" and "Leech" sound more like death metal than thrash metal. Once "Leech" kicks in its become double-bass driven thrash metal assault on the ears. Battlecross at their base might be "blue collar thrash" but it is jumbled up with a big 'ol helping of technical death metal and snippets of metalcore. Yes, the band does incorporate some breakdowns and gang vocals, but really those elements have always been a part of thrash metal. 

I was initially disappointed when I spun this CD due to my expectations. I was expecting something akin to Havok or Bonded by Blood but what I got was closer to Shadows Fall style hybrid thrash. Is that a bad thing? Not at all, but it wasn't what I was expecting. It only took a couple more spins to really begin to appreciate Battlecross' hrybid mix of thrash and death metal. Many bands attempt to combine influences and styles only to sound mixed-up and confusing. Battlecross manage to cross boundaries successfully. 

Went to see Diamond Plate, Battlecross, 3 Inches of Blood and Death Angel on Friday, November 8th in Albuquerque. Great show! Battlecross were impressive live and gave me a new appreciation for this CD. The guys in Battlecross were really cool. Had them sign my copy of "Pursuit of Honor". Guitarist Tony Astra also gave me a guitar pick

Rise to Power Battlecross - Rise To Power (Metal Blade) 2015

1. Scars (3:01)
2. Not Your Slave (3:32)
3. Absence (3:22)
4. Spoiled (3:05)
5. The Climb (3:37)
6. Blood & Lies (3:44)
7. Bound By Fear (3:42)
8. Despised (3:46)
9. Shackles (3:54)
10. The Path (4:09)

Less than a year before this album was released I saw Battlecross opening for 3 Inches of Blood and Death Angel. They were very good. Even spoke with the bands vocalist "Gumby" as well as guitarist Tony Astra. I was impressed by their energy and songs. I had already owned one CD from the band which I had the whole band sign. So it was with great anticipation that I picked up their 2015 album "Rise to Power". I thought for sure this album would be one of my top albums of 2015 but alas I found the same problem with this CD that I had initially found with "Pursuit of Honor", it just didn't click with me right away. I'd pop the CD into the car deck, head down the road and within a couple songs I found my thoughts drifting rather than my head banging or the music pushing me to put the peddle to the metal. The band describes their music as "blue collar thrash". To me that would describe something a bit more simplistic and straight-forward, such as Sacred Reich. So with that in mind, I would beg to differ on the "blue collar thrash" description. Battlecross are anything but "easy listening", and what I mean by that is, their music requires some intent listening and is a bit laborious. For the most part the album is a seamless wall of sound with very few exceptions. "Blood and Lies” opens with a foreboding acoustic guitar part before launching into an aural assault. As well, album closer "The Path" sports an acoustic intro leading into yet another riff-fest.

"Rise to Power" is intellectually and artisically challenging. I think it was this challenge that kept me coming back for more and what had me discovering the nuances within the songs. The album is packed full of heavy riffs, crunchy guitars, screaming solos, incredibly complex drumming, fast-tempos songs and those over-the-top vocals that blend death growls with shrill shrieks. So, despite my initial dismissal of the album, something kept calling me back to listen once again and I found myself enjoying this album more and more over time.

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